How and When to Share Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Deciding to share your breast cancer diagnosis is a personal choice. For some women, breast cancer was always something that happened to somebody else or to much older women. Hearing the words “You have cancer” while you’re in the prime of your life can feel unreal, like you’re in a dream that is quickly turning into a nightmare that you can’t wake up from…
…It feels like a sucker punch to the stomach and a dark cloud forms over your head. And while the doctor’s voice fades away, you begin panicking inside. How much time do I have left to live? How will I tell my family and friends that I have cancer?
Sharing with Family
Believe it or not, some women choose not to share private information about their health with their families. As black women, we may feel ashamed about having breast cancer. This is especially the case when you don’t know anyone like you with breast cancer. We may blame ourselves or think that God is punishing us. Because of the shame and guilt, we may keep it to ourselves and struggle alone in silence. As a breast cancer survivor, I believe that every woman has a right to deal with this disease in their own way. But I believe it is healthier, both mentally and emotionally, to discuss your diagnosis and not go through it alone.
There is no right time to tell your family. You just have to do it when the time is right for you. I was diagnosed on a Friday morning, three days before my son’s 18th birthday. So we waited a few weeks before letting our teenage sons know.
After we met with the medical team and had the surgery and treatment plan together, we had an honest conversation with them about my breast cancer diagnosis. They were scared but they trusted everything that we said and told us later that they were glad we didn’t hide it from them. I told the rest of my family before my first surgery.
Sharing with Friends
I believe that sharing your diagnosis with your friends is very important. Breast cancer isn’t the most talked about topic in the African American community. So, to share your breast cancer diagnosis is helping by spreading awareness about a disease that kills more black women than white women.
But, if you are more of a private person, you may want to keep it to yourself. We all have one of those friends that just can’t keep a secret!
Sharing with Co-Workers
Again, this is a personal choice to make. If you have co-workers that you work closely with, I think it’s okay to share your breast cancer diagnosis. It may help to let them in on what you are going through. You can tell them your diagnosis or just let them know that you’re dealing with a health problem. Most of your co-workers will be supportive during your treatment and recovery.
You will have to talk to your boss because you will have to take time off from work for doctors’ appointments, surgery, and treatment. Taking time off from work is a major issue for Black women. They are four times more likely than white women to lose their jobs after being diagnosed with breast cancer. If the company you work for is covered under the American Disabilities Act, you will be protected from losing your job.
Sharing on Social Media
Whether you share your breast cancer diagnosis on social media depends on how social you are online. If you’re an Instagrammer that posts photos of your daily life, you may be comfortable posting pics during your breast cancer journey. I decided not to share my diagnosis on social media. I felt that this was something private to share with people that are close to me, not everybody on Facebook and Twitter.
And I didn’t want my social media family to see me at my worse-once you post that post-surgery pic, there is no turning back. I stayed away from posting anything about myself on social media until I got better. But, I do have a Facebook friend who posted daily about his cancer treatment and it seemed to lift his spirits. If sharing with social media helps you get through treatment and recovery then you should definitely do so.
Black and Topless friends, how or when did you share your diagnosis with your family, friends, and coworkers? Would you do anything differently now?